SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — Sales at South Korean duty-free stores rose 28.6 percent on-year last month, industry data showed Tuesday, despite a lingering row between Seoul and Beijing over a U.S. missile defense system.
Sales of local duty-free operators came to US$1.44 billion in October, according to the data compiled by the Korea Duty Free Shops Association.
The combined duty-free sales for this year came to $12.9 billion as of September, already surpassing last year’s record of $12.8 billion.
The tally has been increasing largely due to individual Chinese traders who sell their duty-free purchases to consumers back home amid a plunge in the number of Chinese people traveling to South Korea, industry watchers said.
China prohibited its nationals from joining group tours to South Korea in March last year in protest of Seoul’s decision to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system in southern South Korea.
The ban has since been partially lifted on offline marketing of South Korea-bound group tours, but China has yet to completely lift restrictions.